September/October 2011 Newsbrief Articles

Problems With Our Current Food System
(a series of articles over several Newsbriefs)

(Part 2)

Part 3: Treatment of Animals (Poultry, Livestock, etc.)

(Part 4)

By Noor

The purpose of this series of articles is to briefly touch on some of the larger problems with our current food system (especially in the West, although it is spreading and being pushed elsewhere in the world as well) and give some possible scenarios to show how easily it could be broken. Please read Part 1 for a more detailed introduction and explanation.

There is far too much to explain in just a few articles, and there is much excellent and detailed information about each of these points on the internet. If you are already familiar with the current food system and the controversy surrounding it, much of this will not be new to you. This series is only meant to be a brief introduction and overview to a very deep problem.

The topic of this third article, the gross mistreatment of animals by current farming practices, is one of the most well-documented and harshly criticized parts of our food system. If you would like to research more about it, a good place to start is this Wikipedia article.

The essence of the problem is the complete loss of any universal feeling that God is everything, so all living beings including plants and animals should be seen as part of God's Body and so treated with respect and well cared for. Of course, there are limits to this - for example, the killing of animals for food, the fittest survive and culling of the weak, etc. are part of how God set up Nature and the natural way, and Maitreya does not teach to go to the extreme of beliefs such as Jainism where nothing should be harmed. However, God gave us permission to subdue and replenish (Genesis 1:28), and to be stewards of His land and creatures, not exploiters, so we do have a great responsibility to the animals under our care.

Instead, farmers are now taught to look upon animals as machines and become completely dehumanized to their suffering. As an example, take these quotes from executives in the pig industry (we do not promote the eating of pork or other un-kosher animals, but the examples are still relevant):

"The breeding sow should be thought of, and treated as, a valuable piece of machinery whose function is to pump out baby pigs like a sausage machine."

"Forget the pig is an animal. Treat him just like a machine in a factory. Schedule treatments like you would lubrication. Breeding season like the first step in an assembly line. And marketing like the delivery of finished goods."


As the last quote shows, the advantage of treating animals like machines is that you are then justified to set up their care like an assembly line, and take advantage of all the efficiency and profit thereof. However, Nature is not an assembly line, and anytime man tries to do it his own way instead of Nature's (God's) Way, it causes huge problems. This can be demonstrated by looking at modern care of two animals: Chickens and cattle.


These videos demonstrate poignantly the brutal efficiency, and also the brutality, of the chicken assembly line setup (as a warning, these are fairly graphic, so be cautious in watching them if you have difficulty seeing great cruelty to animals):

Industrial hatchery:

Industrial egg-layer operation:

Here are a few additional details about what is shown above:

  • To maximize the amount of chickens that can be raised, each is given as little space as possible using a confinement method called battery cages. This is especially used for layers (chickens raised for eggs rather than meat). The chickens have little room to move and no ability to fulfill their natural instincts such as running, pecking and scratching, etc., or to do much else besides eat and produce eggs and waste.

  • Because of these conditions and other factors, behavioral problems are exacerbated such as chickens pecking each other to death (this can also happen when chickens are free-roaming outside, but much less so, and most probably is the result of those free-roaming systems also not following Nature's Way 100%). To prevent this, rather than solving the base causes of the problem, industrial operations forcibly render the chickens unable to harm each other by cutting most of their beaks off or 'debeaking' (picture - warning, it is unsettling). Research has demonstrated that this is very painful to the birds - based on the makeup and purpose of the beak, some have suggested that it might feel similar to having your fingernails sliced off at the quick and burned so they will not grow back.

  • Industrially raised chickens are given a lot of antibiotics to keep them healthy. However, many organic farmers argue that this is only necessary because the confined and unnatural conditions serve as breeding grounds for bacteria and disease as well as weaken the immune systems of the chickens due to stress, improper nutrition, etc. They say that properly raised chickens are perfectly capable of defending themselves from disease and very rarely, if ever, need antibiotics. This seems clearly true, as chickens survived just fine without them for thousands of years. It is also now being supported by scientific evidence!

Not only are these conditions extremely cruel to the chickens, they also cause problems for us as consumers. Traces of antibiotics remain in the eggs or meat and are passed on to us - this antibiotic overload from our food is likely part of the reason why antibiotics are becoming less and less effective in treating human disease.

Also, since the chickens are usually only fed a grain mixture, with no greens, insects, and other things they would naturally supplement their own diet with, their eggs and meat are missing a lot of nutrition (for eggs, see here, or look at this picture - or to really convince yourself, just eat a regular supermarket egg and then an egg from a chicken raised truly naturally and compare the taste). It is the same idea as feeding soil nothing but chemical fertilizers and then expecting crop nutrition to be the same (see part 1 and part 2 of this article series).

This system also harms the earth as a whole. In the wild, chicken manure is a phenomenal soil enricher and can play a great role in keeping soil fertile or creating compost. As the chickens move around and forage, it is spread out over a wide area and is naturally incorporated back into the earth. In these industrial operations, however, the unnatural concentration of chickens also leads to an unnatural concentration of manure. The manure is unable to break down correctly and instead releases large amounts of ammonia and other compounds which become a breathing hazard for both the chickens and human workers. Therefore, what God created to be such an easy and efficient system of replenishing the earth has now been corrupted by humans to cause problems for all involved.


Renowned 'beyond organic' farmer Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms has written:

"Herbivores [such as cattle] in nature exhibit three characteristics: mobbing for predator protection, movement daily onto fresh forage and away from yesterdays droppings, and a diet consisting of forage only no dead animals, no chicken manure, no grain, and no fermented forage."

Unfortunately, this is not how most cattle are currently raised:

"Movement daily onto fresh forage and away from yesterday's droppings" - most cows now spend at least some of their lives in places called feedlots and/or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (this name is also used for the industrial systems for other animals such as the chicken houses discussed in the previous section). In these places, cows are packed in extremely tightly (you can see it in this video), and everything is brought to them - feed, water, antibiotics, etc. It is efficient because, among other reasons, it allows a great amount of animals to be handled in a small area by a very few people (usually feeding, watering, etc. are mostly automated) and all parts of the operation can be tightly controlled (again the assembly line mentality).

However, it is terrible for the cattle. They have almost no mobility, the ground is barren with no fresh forage in sight, and they cannot move away from their waste. In fact, similar to chicken operations, the overcrowding creates a huge amount of manure which is too concentrated to break down - it releases methane and other gases, smells terrible, the cows stand in it and it gets all over their bodies, etc., creating very unhygienic conditions conducive to disease and contamination. It also negatively affects the surrounding environment in many ways (here is one).

"A diet consisting of forage only" - Instead of their natural diet of grass, cows are now mostly fed corn and other grains (often fermented, known as silage), as well as an amazing and sometimes horrifying variety of other things (for example, mad cow disease is believed to have been caused by feeding cows the processed remains of other cows). This is primarily because these food sources fatten the cow much more quickly than grass, so they are more cost-effective (although research has shown that the beef's nutritional value is inferior to grass-fed).

The problem with this is summarized nicely by this quote:

"Cows can digest corn, and easily, since it's basically the seed of a plant, and they digest plants. However, naturally, cows eat a very small percentage of grain. When that percentage is increased, it wreaks havoc on the cows digestive system.

The main symptom is that their stomachs are heavily acidic, when normally they have a balanced pH. It creates a slimey wall of acid in their stomach that disallows gases to be expelled, and can bloat their stomachs so much that they can't expand their lungs and suffocate. They also get liver abscesses and ulcers. It basically takes a steady stream of antibiotics to prevent them from dying, which in turn (combined with a highly acidic stomach) creates stronger bacteria and less effective antibiotics.

The chances of E. Coli in the stomach go way, way up when not fed grass. Similarly, the lesions and ulcers in the stomach, caused by the acidity, highly increase the chances of contaminating the rest of the cow.

To sum it all up, cows fed a high-percentage grain diet would die of related ailments unless you continually medicate them with antibiotics, which is exactly what the industry does."

(Source, comment at bottom)

So again we see that man has created a problem that should not exist, and is now fighting that problem with further unnatural solutions (massive amounts of antibiotics). Of course, these antibiotics, hormones, etc. remain in the meat and so are also passed on to us, affecting our bodies in all kinds of known and unknown ways. God's Way would be better in all levels - for the consumers, for the animals, and for the earth as a whole.

For some more information about the issues with current cattle raising methods: Video 1, video 2.

So what is the Godly Way to raise animals? He has given it in the way animals live in nature. For some reason (starts with an 'E' and ends with a 'GO') humans always seem to want to set up their own systems for doing things. The problem is, there are always many factors they do not consider that end up causing problems in their systems. God has Considered all factors. Therefore, we should instead be observing how God has done it, submitting to His Wisdom, and modeling our systems around His (Nature).

As Maitreya has said many times before, the great focus on efficiency and improvement in the West is not bad. We just need to use it correctly. The goal is to utilize technology, tight control, automated systems, etc. to adapt Nature's Way for the best human use (subdue and replenish). Probably even 99% of organic farms, although they are much better than the factory farms described above, still want to do it their own ways and are not truly bringing their methods completely in flow with Nature (Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm is the closest I have seen to it). It is again clear that we have to create a New Heaven and a New Earth!

So, as a general guideline, the most Godly way to raise animals might be: In such a way that they do not even know they are domesticated!

The next article (in the next Newsbrief) will be the last of the series. It will touch on a few more reasons why we emphasize the importance of local food (why fresh and organic is good but still not enough), and then try to give a general vision of what the ideal food and farming system might be like when the Communities of Light are created and the Kingdom of Heaven is established on earth!

Letter to humanity and their leaders

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